As employers across Maryland continue to navigate the challenges related to COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Labor has been expanding and promoting its Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance program as a layoff aversion and reopening strategy for businesses. Work Sharing, which has been in Maryland since 1984, allows employers to retain their employees by reducing their hours between 20 to 50 percent, and affected employees will collect partial unemployment insurance benefits to make up a portion of their lost wages.
“As employers across the state take steps to reopen and recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we are strongly encouraging employers from all industries to use the Work Sharing program to avoid layoffs, preserve jobs, and gradually transition their skilled workforce back to full time employment in a safe manner,” said Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn, Work Sharing can cushion businesses by keeping them connected to their employees, and ensure employees continue to receive compensation, keep their job, and in most cases, maintain their health and retirement benefits. Work Sharing can be utilized to bring most or all of a temporarily laid off workforce back to the job, even if social-distancing measures, a decline in business, or other factors prevent operating at full staffing levels. An added benefit to employers is that Maryland businesses enrolled in Work Sharing through 2020 will not face an increase in their unemployment insurance tax rate. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of approved employers participating in Work Sharing has increased from two businesses to over 260, as of late-August 2020.
BTE Technologies, which designs, manufactures, and supports high-tech medical devices used in physical therapy, sports medicine, and industrial rehab, is a current employer participating in Work Sharing.
“Due to the economic challenges created by the coronavirus, BTE was considering aggressive salary actions and furloughs/layoffs. Thanks to Work Sharing, we reduced these employees’ hours from 40 to 30 per week, supplemented their salaries with this program and kept our highly skilled workforce intact. It is a win-win for both employers and their employees,” said Charles Wetherington, president of BTE Technologies.
To learn more about Work Sharing, visit www.labor.maryland.gov/worksharing.
This article is featured in the 2020 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.